Hearth and Grill Shop Backyard BBQ Challenge Recap

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I know last Saturday was one of the prettiest days of the year so far and that the foodie social calendar was jam-packed with the Riffs Dinner, The Great Food Truck Race in town and the Tour de Fat, but if you weren't one of the hundreds of folks who attended the Hearth and Grill Shop's Backyard BBQ Challenge, you might want to mark it on your calendar for next year.

The event was very well-organized, with free barbecue for attendees and an entertaining bluegrass band to keep the action lively. The amateur pit masters competed in both gas and charcoal categories, cooking ribs and chicken as well as desserts. I was extremely pleased to see Russ and Pat, my two favorite barbecue guys from the dearly departed Jimmy Carl's Lunch Box competing and begged them to get back in the business. (Like I do every time I see them. Pitiful.)

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As a judge, I had the awful duty of having to taste almost 30 different chicken thighs and ribs, and let me tell you it was tough work. Out of all those entries, there were only a couple that weren't good. In fact, some of the more experienced judges told me this was the most consistently excellent selection of entries that they had ever judged. Add that to the fact that a record 32 teams competed, and this was the biggest and best Backyard Challenge ever.

This also represented the only day all year where the Hearth and Grill Shop offers any sort of discount on their Big Green Eggs, so that's another reason to make sure you're part of the fun next year. In the end, the grand champion team was 3 Rusty Nails Bar B Q, with Team Manwagon and Mo-Bones About It rounding out the Top 3. You'd think after all the barbecue competitions I've attended as part of this job, I'd finally be over giggling at the punny pig names, but I'm not. Ash Holes ... heh. Smokin' Hot Grill-on-Grill Action ... snicker.

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